Couples Therapy Insight: Open-Minded Communication

Two great barriers to successful communication are the assumption of similarity and theassumption of intent.

Assumption of similarity: 
When we assume words have the same meaning and should evoke the same response in others. This is especially difficult when the words can mean very different things to different people (i.e. love, compassion, justice, reality, etc.).

We can even assume that others should share our meanings of words; if not, they are weird and should be corrected. This can cause a lot of miscommunication in relationships, especially if both people have different assumptions and don’t take the time to clarify their meaning.

Assumption of intent: Assuming people will interpret my good intentions when I speak, especially if it’s a form of criticism or controversial.

More so, when people think their good intentions are ignored, they feel disrespected and can become upset at others for not seeing their intentions.

Many conflicts are easily dissolved by using clarifying and affirming statements toward one another.


“I’m hearing you say you are fed up, it sounds like you’re trying to tell me how exhausted and upset you are with the way things are, that you wish I would help out more. Is that right?”

“You say you love me, but your actions say otherwise. What do you really mean when you say that?”

“I totally get how that would get tiring and upsetting, I would be upset in your position too. I wonder what we can do to move forward?”

“I can see why you would say that, from your perspective it feels like this isn’t working. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me, but I also would like to share some of my perspective on why this works well for me.”

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